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Interfacial Engineering of Nanoparticle Systems: Assesment of Electron Transfer in Inter and Intrananoparticle Photosystems as well as Sensing Applications


Electron transfer within nanochemical systems plays a key role in their uses. This body of work looks to better understand the conditions required for electron transport within these nanochemical systems and under what circumstances does it play a role in their use.

Assessing electron transfer from aqueous graphene nanoparticles to aqueous ions through observation by quenching photoluminescence pointed to interesting requirements for transfer. Sensitivity was observed down to 1.6x10-6 M for the most strongly quenching ions. More interesting though was a marked dependence on chemical hardness of the ions, with specific chemical hardness required to quench each graphene quantum dot species. Graphene quantum dots sourced from carbon fiber were observed to quench best with ions near that of 8.50 eV chemical hardness, like that of nickelous ions. Nitrogen doped graphene quantum dots were observed to quench best with ions near 7.70 eV in chemical hardness, like that of mercuric ions. The shift to a lower hardness is also noted in a shift toward lower excitation energy of the nanoparticles. For some ions concentration dependence was observed, with ions increasing PL emission initially then subsequently acting as quenchers. This behavior points to multiple quenching sites on the nanoparticles with different complexation values, some leading to stabilization of the PL emission when complexed. EDTA, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, was used as a complexing agent to assess possible recovery of emissions. EDTA was observed to complex ions and recovers some PL emission from some ions, with recovery dependent not only on quenching efficiency of the ion but the complexation constant. The most intriguing behavior was observed for aluminum ions which were observed to further quench with additions of EDTA after a critical point emission started to recover. We ascribe this behavior to multiple complexation sites on the nanoparticles with varied concentration and distinct roles in the emission of the nanoparticles.

Looking at inter nanoparticle electron transfer by assessing resistivity of nanoparticle films with varied exposure to solvent vapors. Carbon nanoparticles with notable graphitic character were produced from soot by burning sp2 rich fuels and utilized to selectively sense volatile solvent vapors. Dynamic light scattering and Transmission Electron Microscopy showed the particles to be significantly larger than those produced from other soot sources as well as most known bottom up methods for producing graphene nanoparticles. Raman measurements show considerable graphitic character with Raman G : D peak ratios greater than 1. Doping with nitrogen, undertaken by adding pyridine to the precursor fuel, also yielded a dopant levels of just over 3 % nitrogen, showing pyridine like character. The nitrogen doped particles showed strong specificity to sensing pyridine and piperidine vapors over those of the un-doped toluene soot nanoparticles which showed a strong response to ethanol and especially isopropanol over that of the doped nanoparticles. With the carbon chloride solvent series, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, and dichloromethane, pyridine doped nanoparticles showed greatest sensitivity toward dichloromethane with the undoped particles showing little response. In contrast to many other chemiresistor sensor systems, the particles show increasing conductivity when exposed to vapors displaying conductivities like those of some polymers and special cases of graphene oxide. Although these sensing systems are not optimized the remarkable specificity difference between the two different nanoparticle films due to the slight level of doping is illustrative of how a more diverse set of sensors might be made. Clear trends are present in polarity of the solvents and the current response of the sensors.

Assessing electron transfer within a single nanoparticle system was conducted using ruthenium nanoparticles stabilized by the self-assembly of 1-decyne forming ruthenium-vinylidene interfacial bonds and further functionalized by metathesis reactions with 4-ethynyl-N,N-diphenylaniline (EDPA) and 9-vinylanthracene (VAN). The surface concentrations of the EDPA and VAN ligands were quantified by proton NMR measurements of the organic components after the metal cores were dissolved by dilute potassium cyanide. Photoluminescence measurements showed that when both ligands were bound onto the nanoparticle surface where effective mixing of the π electrons occurred leading to the appearance of excitation and emission profiles that were completely different from those of ruthenium nanoparticles functionalized with only EDPA or VAN. Furthermore, in photoelectrochemical studies, the EDPA moieties exhibited a pair of well-defined voltammetric peaks in the dark that were ascribed to the redox reaction involving the formation of cationic radicals; yet under UV photoirradiation the voltammetric features diminished markedly. These results strongly suggested that the particle-bound EDPA and VAN moieties behaved analogously to those of conventional molecular dyads based on the same electron-donating and –accepting units, where the intraparticle charge transfer might be facilitated by the conjugated metal-ligand interfacial bonds.

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